Franck Muller Introduces the Vanguard Skeleton Sapphire

And in Color Dreams.

One of Franck Muller’s bestselling models, the Vanguard is a modern take on the brand’s signature Cintree Curvex case. Already available in a bewildering variety of sizes, complications, and materials, the line now gets one of its most interesting iterations yet – the Vanguard Skeleton Sapphire.

Featuring a clear sapphire crystal case, the new Vanguard is interesting beyond its colours and shape. Inside is a hand-wind, in-house movement with a seven-day power reserve. And in the Vanguard Skeleton Sapphire Color Dreams, the movement bridges are anodised in a multitude of colours.

The Vanguard Skeleton Sapphire Color Dreams

Initial thoughts

The Vanguard Skeleton Sapphire is typical of modern-day Franck Muller watches – large and flamboyant, especially in the Color Dreams livery.

But it also reflects Franck Muller being a vertically-integrated brand – an accomplishment not widely recognised by aficionados – with the in-house form movement that has a weeklong power reserve.

With black-coated bridges

While the shape of the case is reminiscent of Richard Mille, Franck Muller is the brand responsible for making the tonneau case popular in contemporary watchmaking. The Cintree Curvex was inspired by tonneau-shaped Cartier and Patek Philippe watches of the early 20th century, and became one of the “it” watches of the 1990s.

But the new Vanguard’s retail price of about US$150,000 is too much – by a large margin.

Skeleton sapphire

The Vanguard Skeleton Sapphire is a large 44 mm by 53.7 mm, while standing 12.7 mm high. But its size is justified by the cal. FM 1740-VS within.

It’s a large, manual-wind movement with twin, stacked barrels that provide seven days of running time, or a power reserve of over 160 hours.

The Vanguard Skeleton Sapphire (left) and ladies’ Vanguard

Made of lightweight aluminium, the bridges have been opened worked in a linear style, giving the calibre a clean, modern appearance.

A variety of models are available, but the Color Dreams version is quintessential Franck Muller in its colours.

Key Facts and Price

Franck Muller Vanguard Skeleton Sapphire
Ref. V 45 S6 SQT COL DRM SAPPHIRE (Color Dreams)

Diameter: 44 mm by 53.7 mm
Height: 12.7 mm
Material: Sapphire crystal
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: FM 1740-VS
Features: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 18,000 beats per hour (2.5 Hz)
Winding: Hand wind
Power reserve: Seven days

Strap: Alligator with pin buckle

Availability: Franck Muller boutiques and retailers
Price: CHF138,000, or about US$150,000

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Breaking News: Rolex “Zenith” Daytona Platinum Discovered to Have Turquoise Stone Dial

A prototypical discovery at Sotheby's.

The headline lot at Sotheby’s upcoming Hong Kong watch auction, the Rolex “Zenith” Daytona in platinum is one of just five known. Already a million-dollar watch before, the Daytona just got that much more unusual with a fresh discovery: the dial is not a blue-lacquer “Stella” dial as previously believed, but it is actually turquoise mineral stone.

According to Sam Hines, Sotheby’s head of watches, the discovery came about only recently when light fell on the watch just right, revealing a detail that was not obvious before: the sub-dials are of a slightly different colour and texture. So the dial and movement were removed from the platinum case for inspection. And a close look at the reverse of the dial revealed it to be mineral stone.

“What appeared to be a classic ‘Stella’ dial is actually a natural hardstone turquoise dial with a lacquer coating on top,” explains Mr Hines, “The lacquer coating hides the natural grain that can normally be seen in any hardstone.”

While a revelation, the mineral stone dial is an eminently logical feature. Only five platinum Daytonas with the Rolex cal. 4030 (based on the Zenith El Primero) were ever produced, reputedly at the behest of the late Patrick Heiniger, then the chief executive of Rolex.

It is believed he gifted four examples to important business partners, and kept the final watch for himself. (One watch was gifted to a member of the family that owns a long-established Rolex store in Italy – we told the story in great detail here.)

Four are known today, including this example. All of the prior three known examples are fitted with dials made of natural materials – Tahitian mother of pearl, lapis lazuli, and coral. In that context, the turquoise stone dial entirely makes sense. As Mr Hines puts it, “This discovery now unities all four platinum Daytona’s known, each fitted with a different, never-before-used natural hardstone dial.”

The platinum Daytona with a black mother-of-pearl dial that sold at Sotheby’s in 2018

The discovery makes it almost certain that the five Daytonas in platinum were produced as a trial run for dials made of exotic materials. Although such materials are now a defining feature of the Daytona collection – Rolex just launched a suite of Daytonas with meteorite dials this year – they are a fairly recent addition to the model.

The Daytona is lot 2154 in the upcoming Important Watches auction that takes place in Hong Kong on Friday, April 23. It has an estimate of HK$4.0-8.0 million, or US$500,000-1.0 million. For more, visit


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Ressence Debuts the Type 1 Spymaster with NFT Artwork

With the first to be sold to benefit charity.

With a knack for technically innovative yet fun timepieces, Belgian watchmaker Ressence now unveils the Type 1 Spymaster, a limited-edition series of watches – each accompanied by a non-fungible token (NFT) artwork – conceived in collaboration with New York espionage museum Spyscape.

NFTs are digital tokens stored on a blockchain – the digital ledgers that also store cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether – that are essentially assets in digital format. Each of the 21 watches in the Type 1 Spymaster series is accompanied by its own NFT, a unique video artwork referencing the watch that also serves as a certificate of authenticity.

The first publicly-available example of the Type 1 Spymaster, numbered “008”, will be offered at Sotheby’s Important Watches auction in Hong Kong on April 23 with an estimate of HK$170,000-300,000, or US$21,000-38,000 (we covered a few highlights from the sale earlier this week). It will be sold to benefit a good cause, with all proceeds going to the Make-a-Wish (UK) Foundation, which works to fulfil the wishes of young children with terminal illnesses.

Initial thoughts

NFTs have catapulted into prominence in recent months – a digital image sold for US$69 million at Christie’s in March 2021 – becoming the biggest and hottest fad in an era of fads. Watchmakers have jumped on the bandwagon as well, but if there’s a brand that’s NFT ready, it is Ressence.

Having both filled a watch case with oil and installed magnets within, Ressence is a young brand with a penchant for out-of-the-box engineering and design, making an NFT that’s slightly tongue-in-cheek a perfect fit. The intangibility of a digital artwork along with a watch backed by a museum of deception makes the Spymaster intriguingly amusing – and its charitable angle is commendable.

But more importantly, the watch itself is striking. Based upon the Ressence Type 1 – arguably the brand’s signature watch – the Spymaster looks familiar with its planetary time display, but different enough, especially with its typography done in Spyscape’s trademark redacted font. The Spymaster’s grey-and-black palette and titanium case make it look as stealthy as it was conceived to be.


The Type 1 Spymaster tells the time with the Ressence Orbital Convex System (ROCS), a planetary display with sub-dials that each rotates on their own axes, with the main dial itself revolving.

The watch also features a crown-less case, where time-setting is accomplished with a swivelling tab recessed into the case back. That also allows the symmetrical case to be worn comfortably on both the left and right wrist.

The Spymaster is powered by the ROCS 1.3, an ETA 2892 fitted with the ROCS module. Because it is powered by the ETA 2892 instead of the ETA 2824 used in other Ressence models, the Spymaster is relatively slim, though it only has a paltry 36 hours of power reserve.

Key Facts and Price

Ressence Type 1 Spymaster

Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 11 mm
Material: Titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 10 m

Movement: ROCS 1.3
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, days
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 36 hours

Strap: Black calfskin, with additional cyan rubber strap

Limited edition: 21 pieces
Availability: “008” to be sold at Sotheby’s on April 23, and the rest of the edition via auction at Spyscape on April 24
Price: Sotheby’s estimate of HK$170,000-300,000, or US$21,000-38,000

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